When this hand written letter arrived at the OnlyDads office we knew that it would resonate with many (I’ll say Dads, because it mostly is Dads) and their children.
To readers of this post we have a request to make. Our #familylaw event is being followed by influential people in the world of family law. If you have a child who would like to express their anonymous view of divorce/separation and the processes they went through then please let us know. If we can post up their articles, this will make for a really valuable archive that can be utilised by policy makers and practioners alike.
To be completely honest, there is so much to say about Family Court and I will try and explain this to the best of my ability. I am only 13 and I know for a fact there are things I don’t know and understand but I will try my best to write this well. I hope people don’t go against my way of saying or explaining but here I go anyway.
I think the whole experience of family court is like a game of Chinese Whispers. I mean you say something and it comes out the other end completely different. Like I could say “clocks go tick-tock” and it would come out as “cats like hip hop”. By the way, that was not meant to be funny but I’m guessing it was! So funny in fact you forgot to laugh.
Anyway, what was I saying about Chinese whispers. Well, it can be very frustrating at times.
Family Court, believe it or not, could have changed the whole of my childhood and I didn’t feel listened to and I wanted to be taken more seriously. The thing which gave me sleepless nights and a sea of salty tears was CAFCASS. I was never a fan of those officers who come and visit and never stop smiling and make you feel very very intimidated. They always used to remind me of the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. No offence to any CAFCASS people reading this. One lady came and talked to me and said “mum is a cat and dad is a dog”. Then 5 long minutes later she said “what do you prefer, cats or dogs”. I had always loved cats since I was little so of course I blurted out “I prefer cats”. It is now I realise these little things they were trying to get out of me.
I found “The judge” was mentioned and how he was going to make the decision of who I lived with. And not being boastful, but this court was about me. So why couldn’t I see him? CAFCASS told him the complete opposite of what I was trying to say. It was too much for a girl of my age and I couldn’t take it. It got to the point where I was physically and emotionally sick.
I think they made me feel this was my fault and I felt guilty when they demanded answers from me. Don’t get the wrong idea, they were very loving people but their way of working wasn’t impressive.
I never want to go through that again and I mean that. It was years of hell to be honest. I know I should really quit complaining but I now realise how sneaky CAFCASS are. They sort of trick kids like saying Mum lives in a castle with glowing pink lights and a moonlight dolphin pool, and dad lives in a normal house. Where do you want to live? What do you think most young girls would say?
All I am saying is that I think kids should have more say. The courts are about them and in the end they have to be listened to. It’s not a fair situation and kids are heart broken from believing it’s their fault.
Luckily, as you can tell, I am a very gobby person and I can stand up for myself, but I know other kids may not be. In my eyes, kids need three things:
1.Their own say
2.Advice from people who have been through it or at least understand
3.No being tricked – they need more true honesty
I did get my own way in the end and everything’s worked out but I look back and think I could have done a better job than CAFCASS.
Now my hands are killing me from writing this and I will begin to bore you. But this is my personal opinion on Family Court.